The best Indian wines
Sourish Bhattacharya December 1, 2007Doubt has been the constant companion of our wine industry. The world isn’t ready yet to give us the benefit of doubt. The notion that hot-weather countries can, indeed, produce fine wine tastes like corked stuff to the western world. The world, to tell the truth, is more excited about the prospect of Himachal Pradesh emerging as the country’s new wine capital, which explains why it’s becoming an investment destination. People who understand the industry find our wine scene inexplicable. India’s per capita wine consumption adds up to a teaspoon, yet the drink causes more excitement in fashionable circles than anything else. But first the facts.
Quality issues continue to dog the industry but it is showing no urgency to attack them head-on. That is the price we, the consumers, are paying for the industry’s success story— wine companies have been lulled into complacence by a market where demand, although tiny (7.2 million bottles of domestic wine versus 1.2 billion bottles of other spirits), has grown in the past five years at a steady clip of 20 per cent year-on-year. Production, though, hasn’t kept pace with the demand.
Add to this the fact that the industry is unregulated and you are staring at a quality nightmare. Unlike in France and Italy, where the industry follows critical quality standards, in India, it’s a free for all. It is a common practice for some companies to mix wine from different producers and bottle it under their labels. Many such quality issues keep coming to light, sending wine professionals into a tizzy. Still, I’ll have a Grover Viognier-Clairette and a Dindori Reserve Shiraz any day. Not because I believe in hyper-nationalist mumbo-jumbo, but because I feel these reflect the heights of quality that Indian wines can climb if they are made with the care and the attention to detail that goes into our best wines.
Spoilt for choice
The Indian wine market is growing at a rapid pace and today one has a choice of over a dozen brands to choose from. So, which are the best and why? What’s special about them and what does one serve them with? BT More answers these questions.
Red wines1. Shiraz from Chateau de Banyan
Characterised by its concentration of tannins, this is a very popular wine. It is fermented for eight days at 24 degree Celsius with select yeasts. This is followed by malolactic fermentation using select bacteria. The wines are matured for a minimum period of six months in a cellar after bottling. Serve at: 18°C-20°C
Price: Rs 475 (Maharashtra and Goa)
Serve at: 18°C-20°C
Price: Rs 540
3 Reveilo Syrah 2005
4. Sula Dindori Reserve Shiraz
1. Sula Brut
2. Marquise de Pompadour Brut, NV
1. Sula Sauvignon Blanc
2. Sauvignon Blanc from Chateau de Banyan
3. Grover Viognier Clairette
4. Reveilo Chenin Blanc 2005
1. Sula Blush Zinfandel
A versatile, “anytime” wine that is great for picnics, parties, and hot summer days.
Serve at: 8°C-10°C
Price: Rs 483
2. Grover Shiraz Rosé
With a body longer than most Rosés, this crisp, refreshing wine has been specially crafted to complement Indian food. Enjoy it on its own as an aperitif.